Welcome Time Wasters!
Boy do I have some complaining to do this week. I’m a big fan of the Mega Man series, or as it’s called over in Japan: Rockman. It’s been with me ever since I was a kid and many of my fondest memories involve it. With that in mind, Rockman 20XX didn’t make any good memories with me.
Let’s make this clear right from the get go. Rockman 20XX is a promotional game for a pop group that has a new song that samples some Mega Man music. Knowing that, I wasn’t going into this expecting anything grand, but I also wasn’t expecting to find myself so frustrated with this game, either.
So the story behind Rockman 20XX is that it takes place after the Classic Mega Man series, but before Mega Man X. Mega Man, Roll and Proto Man are all old and Dr. Wily and Dr Light only exist as AIs now. Dr. Wily takes control of Mega Man and brings out the now-old Robot Masters from Mega Man 2 to take over the world. All of this happens during a concert for Team Shachi, that pop group I mentioned earlier. With the help of AI Dr. Light, they become super fighting robots and set off to stop Dr. Wily.
If this all sounds incredibly goofy, it’s because it is. Some may turn up their nose at that last paragraph, but it doesn’t really bother me. Rockman 20XX is just a promotional game and it’s all in good fun. Besides, I highly doubt we need to start worry about this being canon to the Mega Man franchise.
After watching the opening cutscene, players are dropped right into the game. They can switch between the four members of Team Shachi on the fly and each one has their own weapon. This includes the Mega Buster, Rocket Punch, Chicken Wing Shield and a robot pet that the player can ride on. The player has to use each of these abilities to progress through the game.
The problem with Rockman 20XX is that it doesn’t really give the player any time to try these abilities out. Instead, they are just dumped into the game and have to experiment with them. The problem with this is that the game is an autoscroller. That means players will start running into obstacles and have to immeadietly figure out the right weapon to use or die. All of the weapons outside of the Mega Buster also use a shared weapon energy bar, which drains quite fast.
Players have to run, jump, shoot and switch between weapons all dealing with enemies in a level that never stops scrolling and can’t be paused. What. The. Heck. It’s just way too much to deal with and further adding to the issue is the fact that the game is mobile only. Now you have to do all of that while playing on a touch screen that may or may not take your tap. Also, the player can just plainly run ahead of the screen and die, which is a problem.
What would be the easiest way to fix this? Make the level not scroll automatically. The reason it doesn’t already do this is because the game is tied to that new song from Team Shachi. That means things will happen in line with the music and getting rid of the auto scrolling would mess that up. Frankly, it would be better to mess up that rhythm and the set pieces than submit the player to this game in its current form. It’s even worse because the player is taken all the way back to the start of the game, even if they’ve beaten a level. All to preserve playing through what is essentially a music video.
What about the visuals of Rockman 20XX? It’s a mixed bag. There’s a lot of great sprite art here and some fun twists on classic Mega Man enemies. Unfortunately, this gets over shadowed by the sheer chaoticness of the game. There’s this one part where a band swoops in to play instruments and it causes the whole background to start looking glitchy. At this point, it’s dang near impossible to keep track of what’s going on and there are still pits to fall into for an instant death.
Alright. Here’s the thing about the audio in Rockman 20XX: it’s good. I actually like this song from Team Shachi. It’s catchy and I enjoy the bits of Mega Man music that they blend in with it. Sound effects in the game are also solid. It just sucks the game is so poorly designed that I can’t experience it fully.
So what’s my recommendation for Rockman 20XX. Skip it. It’s too much of a mess to bother playing with. Instead, you can just watch the music video, which is the game as well. It’s energetic and fun, but easily shows just how much clutter is on screen at once and how hard it would be to try and beat this in one life. I’ll go ahead and drop it below for anyone that wants to check it out.
I’m also just going to be skipping out on a review score this time around. Like I said, this is less a game and more an interactive music video. Just doesn’t feel like I should score it. Especially considering I was never able to beat it myself.